What I Learned When I Announced My Pregnancy Loss

rear view of teenage girl looking through curtain
rear view of teenage girl looking through curtain

I remember looking at my partner, tears staining my eyes and carving methodic paths down my blotched cheeks, at a loss as to how we were to proceed. We had announced our twin pregnancy a few weeks prior; excited and nervous and happy and terrified, the way only new parents can be.

Now we were faced with the knowledge that, for the remaining 20 weeks of our pregnancy, I would be carrying life and death inside of me, simultaneously and against my will.

We had lost one of our babies, his heart no longer beating and his body no longer growing. We had endured the ultrasound and sat side-by-side as doctors explained the unexplainable and had made our way home, zombies in our loss and grief and shock.

And unlike the announcement we made no more than a few weeks earlier, we had no idea what came next, what it meant we had to do or how we were meant to do it. We knew we had to let friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances know, if only to avoid an unending and unimaginable parade of uncomfortable conversations. We knew we had to make it quick, because lingering on the painful truth of our pregnancy -- or the fact that we were now living in the small percentage of complications -- wasn't something our minds or our hearts could tolerate.

Other than that, we were in the dark. We were navigating uncharted waters, and much like pregnancy and parenthood itself, I was about to learn lessons I couldn't have possibly prepared myself for.

I learned that I would feel like failure personified. My body, my limbs, even fingertips and toes -- found as far away from my uterus as possible -- felt like broken pieces of a dysfunctional body.

I learned that telling people there was a complication felt like I was telling people I had a disease only I could be faulted for. I was the cigarette that gives healthy lungs cancer. I was the liquor that can destroy a liver. I was the problem that let my baby die.

I learned that people will say the wrong things with the right intentions. Words will twist and contort and tie into themselves as they leave concerned, sympathetic lips. It's no one's fault, it's the weight of reality. It smashes even the most meaningful of sentences into discernible mush.

I learned that the moment before you say the words or publish the post, is a moment that will never leave you. It's when the final, stubborn hope that it is all a just a bad dream, finally leaves you. It's the moment you concede and admit that it is real.

I learned that you'll feel alone in a sea of sympathetic faces and heartfelt apologies.

I learned that you'll hold on to plans you already lived, in dreams you yearn to remember. A baseball game with his father. A night of endless cuddles with you. They'll turn into imprints of a life you could have lived if it all went how you planned.

I also learned that I am not alone.

I learned that friends, acquaintances, even my mother, have all experienced pregnancy loss before. I learned about stillbirths and miscarriages and complications from the brave and powerful women who lived them.

I learned that women are afraid to talk about miscarriage, for fear they will be viewed as the perpetrators of significant loss. We isolate ourselves because we believe ourselves defective, unaware that there are others who are capable of giving us the understanding, love and support we so desperately need and undeniably deserve.

I learned that we need to start to have this painful but necessary conversation on a larger, and louder, scale.

I learned that women need to own the pregnancy losses they experience, with the same unapologetic verve that they own healthy pregnancies that end with healthy babies.

I learned that it is not our fault.

I learned that we shouldn't be left to whisper about the guilt and doubt and pain we feel, when we experience the "worst case scenario." We should share our feelings of inadequacy, so that we may better understand their purpose and, in turn, understand their fallaciousness.

I learned that there is strength in numbers -- a strength that can lift you up and carry you through the most overwhelming of losses -- and those numbers are 1 in 4: the number of women who experience a miscarriage.

And, thankfully, now that I've had the opportunity to share my story of loss, I have learned about Jessica Zucker, Ph. D, who has created pregnancy loss cards, essentially starting a national conversation we've been mumbling amongst ourselves.

Because although my pregnancy and the loss that accompanied it taught me many things -- from my wonderful partnership with the father of my child to the strength I have found in a community of warrior women -- there wasn't a single lesson more important than this:

The worst way you can deal with a pregnancy loss, is to stay silent, and not deal with it at all.